Rangers: 'Dave King's pre-emptive strike unnecessary'

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland
Rangers chairman Dave King
King became Rangers chairman earlier this year

When Dave King's latest missive dropped onto the Rangers website on Thursday afternoon an image hit the mind's eye and it still hasn't shifted.

The image was of King as Peter Finch's character in the movie Network, the television news anchor who rails against the wrongs done to the ordinary people of America and beseeches them to get out of their chairs, open their windows, stick their heads out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"

In person, King always comes across as cool and calm but in print he can take on another persona - that of a combative man who looks at perceived wrongs done to his club, wrongs that he's not gonna take anymore.

That's only one of the Dave Kings, of course. There appears to be another. Or used to be another. Would the real Dave King please stand up because this is getting confusing?

We have the unyielding King of this week and the contrite and apologetic King of 2012. Same person, but entirely contrasting viewpoints.

Three years ago, King was espousing penitence about the sins of the past as perpetrated by David Murray and Craig Whyte. He spoke of Rangers' victim status and said that it was time to say sorry.

He was humble and remorseful about being part of the old board that allowed the club to go to the dogs. He "followed the logic" that if Rangers lost their tax case with HMRC then they "probably gained some competitive advantage" and in that scenario "we should apologise".

Playing an odd game

Had King 2012 said those words to King 2015 it's likely he'd brand himself anti-Rangers.

He'd be told to take his regret and beat it. It would have been good if he'd taken time in his statement to explain the seismic shift in his opinion but he didn't. He must have his reasons. Hopefully, he will address it the next time he's in town.

It would also be nice to know why he thought it was a good idea to issue this week's statement at all and if he had to issue it why the lecturing tone?

There's a haughtiness about it. When he accuses "representatives of other Scottish clubs" of submitting to the "uninformed ramblings of a few outspoken fans" and then reminds these officials of their "legal and fiduciary responsibilities" to their shareholders he's playing an odd game.

Dave King (centre) led a successful boardroom takeover at Ibrox in March
King (centre) led a successful boardroom takeover at Ibrox in March

Firstly, it could be seen as talking down to other club representatives. There's a suggestion that they are weak men who might bend to the will of a few uppity fans. It's antagonistic and almost threatening.

Reminding these chairmen and chief executives of their legal and fiduciary duties is almost questioning both their competence and their intelligence.

It should be noted that until Friday when Celtic released a statement, not one official from a Scottish club has uttered so much as a peep on the Rangers story in recent weeks. There was a meeting of the Scottish Professional Football League board last week in the wake of the Court of Session ruling that Rangers broke tax rules with their use of EBTs.

Adding fuel to the fire

It was a debrief, so much as we know. Nobody has broken ranks about what was discussed around the boardroom table. King is second-guessing what was said. He seems to see conspiracy afoot, a cabal of Rangers-haters plotting to strip them of titles won during the period EBTs were in use at Ibrox.

Some might suggest that King has been listening to too many people who have spent too much time on website forums.

Unquestionably, there are some on that board who have clashed - and clashed bitterly - with Rangers in the past and Rangers fans won't ever forget it. They can theorise all they like about who might or might not have it in for them. It's their right. And their suspicions are heartfelt.

The job of a Rangers chairman is to separate himself from that and help smooth things. If there's been an attempt by the Rangers board to reach out and make peace then King hasn't said much, if anything, about it. Thursday's statement would have been a good moment.

Instead there seems to be an assumption of an impending SPFL bloodlust post the Court of Session ruling. This is to be guilty of letting the mind run away with itself. King's statement was a pre-emptive strike that didn't need to be struck. It did nothing to douse the fire. Rather it added fuel to it.

King is right when he says that Scottish football needs to find a way through all of this for everybody's sake. Bridges need to be built, not blown up.

Quite how his statement helps that process is unclear. It might be a good idea if King remembered his peace-making tone of 2012 - and had a word with himself.